SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Senate President John Cullerton signaled his support Wednesday for Gov. JB Pritzker’s efforts to make sure the state’s workforce training programs are putting people to work and identifying new jobs and industries for Illinois’ future.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to put people to work. I applaud the governor for recognizing the opportunity and moving quickly to do something about it,” said Cullerton.

On Wednesday, Gov. Pritzker gave his agencies a 90-day deadline to come up with ways for the state to better align workforce development programs and funding with actual employers’ needs and emerging industries, such as renewable, green energy jobs.

President Cullerton recently highlighted in his inaugural address the success of a Richland Community College program that dramatically increased employment for construction trades and industrial training students. Success came after school leaders met with local employers, identified what they needed from potential workers and adjusted the curriculum to address specific needs.

Cullerton has called for expanding the program statewide and including renewable energy industries.

Pritzker’s executive order is a key step forward for those shared goals.

This focus on putting people to work comes as nearly half of the 580,000 manufacturing workers in Illinois are expected to retire over the next decade. Meanwhile, health care, transportation and other industries are also in need of reliable, skilled workers.

“The path to a better Illinois comes from putting people to work. That the governor is making this a priority once again shows that it is a new day in Illinois,” Cullerton said.